Bio/Chemistry at Oxford does it get any easier after year one? Watch

P4H123
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Bio/chemistry degree. Three weeks into the course and DS is thinking he made the wrong choice of course and University.

With five subjects in the equation and the workload.

Can any year two/three students that found year one a struggle shed any light on the pressures/choices/options available please?

He feels that when he went for the interview the 'host students' were not honest about the workload and university life in general.
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PeteM01
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(Original post by P4H123)
Bio/chemistry degree. Three weeks into the course and DS is thinking he made the wrong choice of course and University.

With five subjects in the equation and the workload.

Can any year two/three students that found year one a struggle shed any light on the pressures/choices/options available please?

He feels that when he went for the interview the 'host students' were not honest about the workload and university life in general.
I am not a student but I understand that the workload on the MBiochem course is very much lower after Prelims (Year 1). Year 2 is relatively light and even Year 3 (with the Part 1 exams) is better than Year 1...
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Nununu
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(Original post by P4H123)
Bio/chemistry degree. Three weeks into the course and DS is thinking he made the wrong choice of course and University.

With five subjects in the equation and the workload.

Can any year two/three students that found year one a struggle shed any light on the pressures/choices/options available please?

He feels that when he went for the interview the 'host students' were not honest about the workload and university life in general.
Its Oxford, I doubt it will get lighter in fure years.
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Hugh's Swan
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I have seen a post in the distant past about someone struggling with this same subject and wanting to leave in year one. I think they were reassured that year 2 gets better. I will see if i can find that post
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Hugh's Swan
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https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=4411256

There are a few previous posts about the toughness of chemistry and biology - if you search threads called ‘dropping out of oxford’ quite a few come up about biology and chemistry - sorry can’t append them all here but they will come up if you search
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Hugh's Swan
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https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=4657890
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Hugh's Swan
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https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=2513272
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Oxford Mum
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My son is reading medicine ( year 3)

He coped by just putting his head down and getting on with it. He expected it to be tough, and it doesn’t help that in Oxford everyone is bright and you are no longer the top, as you were in school.

Some of his fellow students found it very tough and for some this was compounded by home sickness. They all accept that they will not have the same hectic social life as some arts students.

Yes the first year was by far the worst, but he felt a lot better after the first year exams.

Now he is in the final year of his first degree and although this year will be crucial, the workload is less, plus it feels lighter because he is so used to it

Your ds’s first port of call should be his college parents, at least one of whom will be reading the same degree. The same goes for college grandparents. They are there to give emotional support as well as practical time management tips. Failing that, maybe speak to the tutor if he feels comfortable doing so. If it is a tough course they may be used to this scenario and provide encouragement and support.

However I won’t lie.. Oxford is a pressurised environment.
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Oxford Mum
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P.s. all the medics in his year who found it difficult have passed all their exams and have found ways of adjusting their lifestyle to meet the workload.

Other things, such as the sight of human body parts, was something else that they had to get used to, but they did.

My elder son (German) gave his college son a lot of help when he was in year one
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P4H123
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He's so stressed out he cannot connect or understand any lectures now. I would like to contact university but not sure who/what department I feel so powerless to help.
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PeteM01
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(Original post by P4H123)
He's so stressed out he cannot connect or understand any lectures now. I would like to contact university but not sure who/what department I feel so powerless to help.
You should tell your son to contact his tutor or his college pastoral support team ASAP.
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artful_lounger
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I've seen a fair few comments from people at Oxford who indicate year 1 is quite stressful, then year 2 much less so due to usually there being no/few exams (with then year 3 again going up in the stress levels, but usually by then they're more used to university life and workload and better able to cope with things).

Basically, it seems for most courses at Oxford year 1 is a bit of a trial by fire. However if he's really not grasping any of the material this is something he should talk to his tutor(s) and/or director of studies about. They can only help if they know about it!

The_Lonely_Goatherd might be able to offer some advice about who he might be best off speaking to initially
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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(Original post by P4H123)
He's so stressed out he cannot connect or understand any lectures now. I would like to contact university but not sure who/what department I feel so powerless to help.
I can't comment on the course content/workload, as I was a humanities student at Ox. I would urge you to ask your son (I'm assuming that's what ds means, I'm never quite sure what all these acronyms are) to reach out initially to staff within his college. First port of call should be his college tutor (i.e. his subject tutor at his college, assuming that this is someone approachable/who would listen). Your son should technically have been allocated a personal tutor, though in some colleges the college tutor ends up being one and the same person, which isn't very helpful...

Your son may feel (for whatever reason) that he doesn't want to talk to subject tutors. Each college will have its own welfare team, ranging from peer support students (who have some basic training), to college welfare reps, to academic staff who have a pastoral role (this could include a Dean, a Junior Dean, a chaplain, the college nurse, and maybe one or two other titles). They can be approached by your son via email, or by dropping into their office if they have an "open office hour".

I would advise you not to get directly involved by contacting the university or the college. It can be mortifying for the student concerned and make things worse (my dad did this, so I speak from experience). Get your son to contact people to get support; if he really feels he cannot do it, then ask him to get a friend to help him
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Oxford Mum
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Could you go and visit him, and talk to him?

Maybe go to see the chaplain with him? ( make an appointment first). He will find out who to speak to
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Hugh's Swan
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His first port of call should be his personal tutor -and just open up - i suffered depression in my second year and my tutor realised and put me in touch with a university councillor. When my mother died in the third year, i realised my sister had been in touch with my tutor updating her. I ended up having a year off just before my finals term and honestly it was the best thing. I got a good second and had settled down after the break. Forget all this advice about college parents etc - they are just students and wont be able to do anything. That said I also knew a few people who did drop out of oxford after xmas of first year and were much happier afterwards.
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Oxford Mum
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As hugh’s swan has had first hand experience here, he or she is the very best person to listen to.

Hopefully following this sound advice your son can work out, with the tutors help, the best way forward from here.

If the best option is to leave, other unis will only be too happy to snap him up!

My heart goes out to you, op. Many hugs from me xx
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OxFossil
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PRSOM to Hugh's Swan for digging out those old threads. The first year of quite a few science degrees are heavy going; the rationale often offered being that they are trying to get everyone up to the same level on all aspects of the topic, which requires a lot of recapping, and a revision of topics which may have been handled differently at A Level. But Biochem does seem to be organised in a particularly unfriendly way.

I'd echo all that HS and The_Lonely_Goatherd have said (PRSOM to you too TLG). It is early days, and it's essential to make use of all the turorial and pastoral resoiurces available to help you through. To find oneself struggling after a school career of exceptional success is disorienting and distressing.

That said, please do remember that being at Oxford isn't the be-all and end-all. I know a very bright fresher who left after enduring a year of utter misery doing Medicine. After much teary soul-searching, he decided to take a year out to regroup, then applied to another RG uni to do Philosophy. He's just graduated, and says he made absolutely the right decision.
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P4H123
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We talk everyday, I am beginning to get stressed myself now waiting for the phone calls. He is now not functioning he's missing meals not doing laundry. He is reaching out but just feels like a failure. I keep praising and encouraging him to speak to tutors, I don't think I should go to Oxford I think it would be disastrous.
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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(Original post by P4H123)
We talk everyday, I am beginning to get stressed myself now waiting for the phone calls. He is now not functioning he's missing meals not doing laundry. He is reaching out but just feels like a failure. I keep praising and encouraging him to speak to tutors, I don't think I should go to Oxford I think it would be disastrous.
That's really sad he feels like a failure. The first term/year at Oxford is a very tough slog uphill and one does tend to feel like one is drowning in an insurmountable load of work :sadnod: A lot of students (both in his subject and other subjects) will be struggling too.

Do you know which tutors/how many he has reached out to at all? Some people are better/more sympathetic than others, so these things can be trial and error. I hope he is getting some support from college welfare?
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Hugh's Swan
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I know there is always a concern about a change in the status quo, if an issue is raised that it may change things irrevocably. It sounds as if he has developed clinical depression / anxiety if he is missing meals and not undertaking basic things - it is difficult for a mother as, in addition to my experiences at oxford with depression and taking a year out, my child has just had similar mental health issues that were being dealt with by the school and we were unaware of. It was better once we were told. So i understand from both points of view. It depends on whether you feel it can be retrieved, or whether it could get to a much more serious position before there is an intervention. I know i felt i could not make a decision, and my tutor in the end made the decisions for me, calling the finance dept first and then just saying - you are having a year off. See you next year. Maybe he is waiting for someone to intervene. You may find that he comes home for the xmas vac and does not want to return, or if he has a collection (exam) next term and has done not enough work, he will be called in. Either way, it will come to a head.
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